Navaratnam says TI-M chief acted honourably

By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

Former president of Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said his successor acted honorably in choosing to step down after raising a brouhaha over a corruption index report but warned that the decision will have a far-reaching effect on Malaysian society.

Datuk Paul Low was elected chief to the local chapter of the worldwide anti-corruption watchdog in March.

He quit in mid-stream yesterday following a lawsuit threat for his role in launching the Global Corruption Report 2009 (GCR 2009) said to highlight the multi-billion ringgit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

“I think he did the right thing because you cannot be the president of any organisation when a large number on the boat has lost confidence in you,” Navaratnam told The Malaysian Insider today.

The prominent economist noted that his long-time friend had been on the receiving end of scathing attacks from many sides, including the executive committee (exco) of TI-M.

He described Low as an honest, God-fearing person with integrity and a good values system and sympathised with him.

But Navaratnam could not excuse Low for failing to consult his colleagues on the draft report of the corruption index before giving the green light to the main watchdog group based in Berlin to publish it.

“The fact remains that he did not table the draft with the Transparency International Malaysia committee and took it upon himself to approve it,” he said.

He added that it was not fair for the president to hold a press conference and openly comment on the report, especially as he was in a position of conflict.